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Veteran provides thousands of meals to hungry students

A veteran is working to fight hunger for students, veterans and the homeless.

OCCOQUAN, Va. (WUSA9) — A veteran and mother is working to fight hunger for students, senior citizens, the homeless and veterans in Occoquan, Virginia by providing them with meals.

Mercedes Kirkland-Doyle is to giving back to her community in hopes of making it a better place for everyone to live and grow.

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“The Good News Community Kitchen makes an impact by helping those who are under the radar,” said Doyle, the organization’s founder and executive director. “People should care about what we do because it affects them. It affects the community they live in.”

The Good News Community Kitchen delivers 4,000 meal-to-go kits a year to five Title I schools in and around Occoquan.

RELATED: IMPACT: Feeding our Children

The kits are full of things like soup, crackers and peanut butter. They help provide children with some nutritional snacks over the weekend, when they may not otherwise have access to enough food.

Doyle and most of her volunteers have full-time jobs, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to make a difference.

“They know that someone cares about them and we’re filling a void that the parent might not be able to,” said Donald Phillips, a volunteer.

Occoquan Elementary is one of the schools that receives meals every other week. They also get school supplies, backpacks, and other things parents may not be able to provide.

RELATED: What does hunger look like in your school district?

The student volunteers, lead by principal Michael “Buddy” Lint , were all smiles when The Good News Community Kitchen dropped off the latest donation.

“If they have a full belly and they’re ready to learn, the next day their brains are energized and they’re ready to get in here and get at it,” the principal said.

One of the students volunteer she said she likes lending a hand.

“When you help out, it makes you feel good because you’re making other people feel good too.”

The Good News Community Kitchen would love to expand and serve even more students.

RELATED: What is food insecurity?

Doyle dreams of having a storage room at each school that’s always stocked with supplies.

“If teachers and staff could provide immediate assistance, that would be great,” she added.

If you’d like to make a difference for families in our area and contribute to Impact: Give Back, join WUSA9 and the United Way of the National Capital Area by donating here.

First, type the organization’s name in the “Find Your Cause” search bar. When your organization appears in the results, click on their profile and donate on their page.

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We report on problems all the time, but we’ve heard from you, that’s not enough.  That’s why our WUSA9 Impact team is committed to bringing you solutions.  

From May 1 until May 18, we’ll be bringing you the stories of the local non-profits in the District, Maryland and Virginia who work nonstop to make our community a better place to live.

“Impact: Give Back” is a partnership with the United Way of the National Capital Area to help raise money, so these groups can keep doing their good work.